Posts Tagged With: Middle East

Losing History

President Obama has caused quite the controversy by making comparisons of ISIS’s campaign of terror to the Crusades. I will let others debate what, how and why he said everything that he did. Since this site does touch on history time to time, I will discuss his comparison. How do I put this nicely?

It’s absolutely ridiculous.

The Crusades are often brought up primarily by those looking to attack Christians or knock them down a bit. They have fed the perception that the Crusades were all about expanding empires and destroying Islam. The problem is that this perception isn’t history.

It’s revisionist history.

During the early history of Christianity, its population was centered in what we typically refer to as part of the Middle East (technically the Near East and Asia Minor). It’s hard for some to imagine that a country like Egypt was once predominately Christian. What is left out of drive-by comments about the Crusades is the part about the Muslim Conquests that swept through the region, conquering nearly all of it. Princeton scholar Bernard Lewis wrote:

At the present time, the Crusades are often depicted as an early expansionist imperialism — a prefigurement of the modern European countries. To people of the time, both Muslim and Christian, they were no such thing. The Crusade was a delayed response to the jihad, the holy war for Islam, and its purpose was to recover by war what had been lost by war — to free the holy places of Christendom and open them once again, without impediment, to Christian pilgrimage.

Were the Crusades full of tragedies, horrible events and misguided people on both sides? Yes, because all war is a horrible tragedy. That doesn’t mean we rewrite history for our agendas. We let history, the good and the bad, speak for itself. We learn from it, so we don’t repeat it. Or, as George Orwell said, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

The revisionism of the Crusades is such an obvious one, it’s sad to see world leaders repeat it. We’ve lost respect for the importance of history. Instead, we have replaced it with superficial study, politics and the tendency of too easily believing everything we hear. We are in danger of losing the messages our ancestors have left for us.

The very messages that can preserve humanity’s future.

crbks

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Categories: Critical Thinking, History | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stealing Scripture?

For generations, scholars and historians agreed that the Old Testament was unique among Near East writings. Now the tendency is to claim the OT writers largely borrowed from other works and that they offered nothing new.

What changed? Well, nothing. The writings have all remained the same. The idea that much was “borrowed” is posited by some skeptics to infer “stolen.” Most readers are often disappointed that such tabloid-like claims don’t hold merit. Good for selling books, however.

In fact, it has never been a great mystery or surprise that one finds some similarities among cultures living and interacting with each other. No one has ever disputed this common sense. Many will play the “who came first” game, which is often a fallacy (i.e. just because something precedes something else doesn’t automatically mean one produced the other). After all, many could convincingly argue that Genesis is derived from sources that predate anything else by far.

So the arguments of the skeptics rest by great measure on ignoring the significant differences between the Bible and other texts. It does a great disservice to history and studies of antiquity to do so. Are all such claims driven by bias? Probably not, but when one puts one text next to another and can say with a straight face that they don’t have fundamental and critical differences, the observer must look at the motivations. To be fair, there are even some “religious” scholars who agree with their skeptical colleagues. How does one reconcile such apparently divergent views? With great difficulty and rationalization.

Scholar John N. Oswalt, in his book, The Bible Among the Myths, examines these issues at great length. He details that the Bible is radically different, in many ways, to its contemporaries. Many will dismiss or minimize the Bible because it doesn’t fit into their worldview. Regardless, it is certain that the Bible will remain an important part of the canon of ancient writings. The level of study and preservation of the text make this more true of it than of any work. These two things would be difficult to deny by anyone. However, as Oswalt argues, to simply leave it as nothing more that this, defies reason.

Categories: Ancient Documents, Bible, Books, Critical Thinking | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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